A PROGRAMME COMBINING THE PAST AND THE PRESENT
The opening ceremony of the 25th AEHT Annual Conference took place on October 9th in the Ohrid sports centre which for a few hours had been transformed into an auditorium where the 600-odd participants took their seats alongside the students from the local hotel school. The ceremony had been due to start at 10.00, but finally got under way at 11.00.
The raked seating of the sports centre was occupied right up to the last row, and there was scarcely enough space for the participants who had been brought by an endless stream of buses from the various hotels to attend this ceremony which every year has surprises in store.
A very full programme had been put together for the occasion, a medley of dances and sketches performed by the students with contemporary music. But before the programme proper the parade of the delegations, each preceded of course by their national flag, was one of the highlights of the event.
And so the following countries marched in: Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy (always the largest delegation), Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and finally Macedonia – a total of 30 delegations who were entusiastically applauded as they came to the platform.
A dance troupe took over, giving a resolutely contemporary performance before handing over to Mr Aleksandar Petreski, the mayor of Ohrid who greeted the assembly and pointed out that his city was the country’s largest tourist centre and that the participants in the 25th Annual Conference were Ohrid’ best ambassadors. ‘All civilizations have left their mark here, and the natural beauties and Lake Ohrid protected by UNESCO are in fact the Macedonian bit of Paradise.’
Mrs Natasha Janeska, representing the
Minister of Education and Science, emphasised that her Ministry strongly supported the activities of the conference. ‘Tourism and hospitality are the links in the chain of progress’. She recalled the importance of vocational training aimed at strengthening competence. Increased training and improved standards required an increase in teaching to produce students with the approprate qualifications. Natacha Janeska concluded by emphasising that the Ministry fully supported the event and the teachers involved, and wished everyone a pleasant and productive stay.
Zoran Nikolovski, the brains behind this 25th Annual Conference, took the floor to sing the praises of his own school, ‘the largest in the Balkans and one of the largest in Europe’. He described the various specialisms, the continuous modernisation of the school and the success of a large number of projects, especially those carried out in collaboration with the other Macedonian schools. ‘We have gone to a lot of trouble to organize this Annual Conference, especially in setting up the competitions which will be taking place in a radius of 100 metres from here. I am delighted about the presence here in Macedonia of representatives from 30 countries and 130 schools, representing a considerable cultural richness, and I invite you to enjoy your stay with us’.
AEHT President Klaus Enengl said how delighted he had been ever since he was welcomed at Skopje airport: the tone had been set by the bread and salt welcome ceremony! Many thanks to Macedonia, the ‘Jerusalem of the Balkans’! He announced that the AEHT’s 25th anniversary would be celebrated in 2013 with a five-day cruise on the Mediterranean. ‘This year is the last of my mandate: I was elected in Dubrovnik, and I also presided over the Confererences in Lisbon, The Hague and now Ohrid-Skopje, and I’m still just as enthusiastic about the AEHT! It is an amazing melting pot, and I am proud to be surrounded by these beautiful young people. You represent your school, your city, your country, and I wish you a marvelous stay here, and I cross my fingers for you in the competitions. I declare this 25th Annual Conference open!’
The final speaker was Louis Robert, Vice-President responsible for the competitions. Going into practical details, he announced that from now on there would be more medals to be awarded in each category, that the choice of subjects would be made by drawing lots, that the judges would be for the most part Macedonians and that a language test would be obligatory for everyone before the competitions – he warned that failure to demonstrate the required level would lead to elimination. He concluded by saying, ‘Good luck to you all, respect your team mates and may the best ones win!’
There followed the rest of the show presented by Emilija Nikolovska and Vojislav Zdravkovikj, consisting of a series of sketches, of pieces of music performed by students from the Lazar Tanev school, and as a finale the TANEC National Dance and Choral ensemble performed a high quality routine with male and female dancers presenting various aspects of Macedonia’s traditional culture.
It was 13.30 when the ceremony came to an end, the ceremony which every year really launches the Conference. The opening ceremony in Ohrid was well up to the mark!